A solid Pac-12 conference season came crashing down last night as the Cal Bears found themselves on the wrong end of a 83-70 thrashing by rival Stanford. If that wasn't bad enough, a fight that broke out late in the game led to multiple ejections, six technical fouls, and three assistant coaches being sent to the showers. The eruption of violence left analyst Bill Walton clutching his tie-dyed pearls and illustrated one of the NCAA's stupidest college basketball rules: that anyone who leaves the bench during an altercation, head coaches excluded, is immediately ejected.
NCAA Rules 10-6-2-j and 10-6-2-EJECTION read in part:
Any individual who leaves the bench area and enters the playing court but does not participate in a fight (Art. 2.j) shall not be assessed a CLASS B technical foul (no free throws awarded). That individual shall be ejected but is not subject to suspension.
The rule does allow for head coaches to leave the bench area to keep a situation from escalating, but in what world can a single individual keep up to ten elite athletes from brawling with each other? Stanford's assistant coaching staff kept last night's fight from devolving into a full-out donnybrook, and their efforts were rewarded with technical fouls and a trip to the locker room.
For all the NCAA's flaws, they do tend to recognize when the language of these sorts of rules creates loopholes through which efficient play and punishment are subverted; we're crossing our fingers they fix this quickly, though selfishly a part of us hopes they don't and the era of uncontrolled college basketball brawls comes sooner than later. [ESPN2]